Cornelius Rosse

Biological Structure
University of Washington


Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Structure; Joint Professor Emeritus, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education; University of Washington,Seattle, Washington.


A native of Hungary, Dr. Rosse received his medical degree (M.B., Ch.B.) in 1964 from the University of Bristol, England. The same institution awarded him two additional doctoral degrees, M.D. in 1974, and D.Sc. in 1983, in recognition for his research on blood cell formation and the body’s anticancer mechanisms. Dr. Rosse pursued his postgraduate training at the University of Bristol, where he subsequently joined the faculty as Demonstrator of Anatomy.

Academic career:

In 1967 he moved to the United States and was appointed as Assistant Professor of Biological Structure at the School of Medicine, University of Washington. Having risen through the academic ranks, he served as Chair of the Department of Biological Structure from 1981 to 1993. During his tenure as chair, he was instrumental in establishing of the department's Cancer Research Center, Biomolecular Structure Center and the Digital Anatomist project. In 1974-75, he taught anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, as a visiting professor.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Rosse redirected his scholarly activities from biological bench research to the representation of anatomical knowledge in computer-processable form. Under his leadership the Digital Anatomist project has pioneered the generation of 3D computer graphics models of the human body. To complement graphical representations of anatomy with symbolic knowledge, Dr. Rosse developed the Foundational Model of Anatomy to serve as a resource for knowledge-based applications in biomedical research, education and clinical practice, which have a need for machine-based knowledge about the structure of the body. Together with James F. Brinkley, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. Rosse has been responsible for establishing structural informatics as a scientific pursuit concerned with the epistemology and contemporary representations of anatomy.


Dr. Rosse is a member of a number of honorific and academic societies, including Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Association of Medical Informatics and several American and European associations of anatomists. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American College of Medical Informatics. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences in 2001. He served as President of the Association of Anatomy Chairmen, and as member of the Executive Board and Chairman of the Anatomy Test Development Committee of the National Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Rosse was elected Outstanding Teacher in the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1980. In 1981 he was named a Teacher Superior in Perpetuity. In 1989 he received the University of Washington's Distinguished Teacher Award and also the national award for distinguished Basic Science Teacher from the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Dr. Rosse is the author of three textbooks on various aspects of anatomy and of numerous articles and scientific papers in the areas of hematopoietic cell differentiation, medical education and anatomical knowledge representation.

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